Inaugural Purdue Postdoc Challenge recipients awarded $5,000 for cancer, biology research

April 24, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Two postdoctoral researchers have been awarded $5,000 Purdue Postdoc Challenge grants for use at specific core research facilities designated by the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute at Purdue University.

Sean Humphrey, a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of biological sciences professor Andrea Kasinski, was selected for his project, "Identifying Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Secreted Oncosomal Proteins with Therapeutic Potential as Diagnostic Biomarkers and Therapeutic Targets."

Tian Shao, a postdoctoral fellow of cancer biology in the lab of biochemistry professor Xiaoqi Liu, was selected for his project, "Plk1 in Inflammation-Induced Prostate Cancer."

"We were extremely pleased with the caliber of the proposals submitted for this inaugural Purdue Postdoc Challenge," said Thomas Sors, chief scientific liaison at Discovery Park's Bindley Bioscience Center. "The projects awarded should yield some exciting results. Dr. Humphrey and Dr. Shao should be particularly proud to be selected for this award as it is a reflection of their hard work and exceptional effort."

Humphrey will use the Purdue Proteomics Facility to identify pro-tumorigenic proteins secreted by non-small cell lung cancer cells that promote tumor growth and metastasis. The investigation has the potential to identify new therapeutic targets and diagnostic biomarkers for the treatment and diagnosis of NSCLC.

Shao will study how oxidative stress caused by chronic inflammation and castration results in inactivation of PTEN, a tumor suppressor protein. He will use the Bioscience Imaging Facility in Bindley to follow prostate tumor growth and prostatic inflammation to examine whether Polo-like kinase I plays important roles in inflammation-induced prostate cancer progression.

Sors said the awardees were selected from a competitive pool of applicants representing the Purdue colleges of Agriculture, Engineering, Health and Human Sciences, Pharmacy, Science and Veterinary Medicine.

Humphrey received his bachelor's degree in biology from Southeast Missouri State University in 1998 and his doctorate in biology from Purdue in 2005. Shao received his bachelor's degree in genetics from AnHui University in 2002 and his doctorate in plant molecular biology from the Chinese Academy of Science in 2011.

The Indiana CTSI is a statewide collaboration of IU, Purdue and Notre Dame to facilitate the translation of scientific discoveries in the lab into new patient treatments in Indiana and beyond. It was established in 2008 with a Clinical and Translational Science Award totaling nearly $60 million from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science at the National Institutes of Health.

In 2013 Indiana CTSI was awarded a $30 million grant from NIH's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, which renewed the grant established by the Indiana CTSI five years ago, guaranteeing the institution will advance innovative health-care programs and biomedical research into at least 2018.

Writers: Anna Schultz, 812-447-5229,

Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133,

Source: Thomas Sors,, 765-494-1678

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